Title: The Creation of Anne Boleyn
Author: Susan Bordo
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: History, Biography, Non-Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In her part-biography and part-history, Susan Bordo examines the cultural impact that Anne Boleyn, the first queen in English history to be executed, has, as well as makes an effort to present a truer depiction of Anne to readers.
Susan Bordo is an unabashed Anne Boleyn fan. She’s up front about this from the very beginning of her book The Creation of Anne Boleyn. Like so many others, Bordo finds Anne Boleyn’s life, history, and cultural legacy fascinating, and she tries to rescue Anne’s name from the muck it’s lived in for centuries. But it’s worth remembering that Bordo is not a trained historian (though she does an admirable amount of research for this book), and though she takes other authors to task for having an agenda when it comes to Anne, Bordo too, has a goal in mind.
That’s not to say that The Creation of Anne Boleyn is bad; it’s not at all. In fact, it’s a very good, interesting read from beginning to end. As I mentioned, Bordo pores through countless resources, biographies, and histories, from Anne’s contemporary sources to the present day. She tries to construct a new version of Anne, one who doesn’t deserve to be vilified. Is she ambitious? Absolutely. But she’s also smart, savvy, and confident. She’s not the schemer or duplicitous witch that so many have painted her as. It’s interesting to see Bordo deconstruct and rebuild Anne’s image, and she delivers a convincing narrative.
But The Creation of Anne Boleyn isn’t just about Anne’s life; it’s also about how her image has changed through history and how she reached such iconic status. It’s here that Bordo really excels. If you’re at all interested in pop culture when it comes to history and the Tudors, this is an absolute must-read. Whether you’re a fan of Showtime’s The Tudors or an avid reader of Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl, Bordo presents a thorough, convincing tale of how Anne’s image has grown and changed over the years, and why there are so many misconceptions surrounding her.
One of the most fun aspects of The Creation of Anne Boleyn is how Bordo takes certain history authors to task for their Anne Boleyn-related statements. Historians, like anyone else, have their own biases, and Bordo isn’t afraid to point these out. If you’re interested in history, but find most accounts too dry and boring for your tastes, try history from a non-historian’s point of view. It’s smart, well-researched, and though Bordo does have her own biases, it’s easy to agree with her interpretation of this iconic queen.